The two advisors to Chinese online lottery and sports betting company 500.com implicated in Japan’s IR bribery scandal have been sentenced to suspended jail sentences by the Tokyo District Court.
On Monday, Masahiko Konno, 49, was handed a two-year sentence, suspended for three years, while Katsunori Nakazato, 48, was handed 22 months also suspended for three years for their roles in the scandal.
They stood accused of offering bribes totaling approximately JPY7.6 million (US$72,000) between September 2017 and February 2018, including JPY3 million (US$28,500) in cash, to House of Representatives member Tsukasa Akimoto, who was deputy minister for IRs at the time.
Judge Toshihiko Niwa said, “A large amount of money was provided and blatant hospitality … the fairness of their public duty with regard to IR and the trust of the general public were significantly damaged.”
Konno was also found to have brought a total of JPY15 million (US$142,500) from Hong Kong to Japan without declaring it to authorities, a violation of the Foreign Exchange Law.
The prosecution had insisted their actions had significantly damaged public trust in IRs and that severe sentencing was necessary.
In response, the defense argued that 500.com, which had originally shown interest in developing an IR in either Hokkaido or Okinawa, had not realized its goal of participating in the IR bid and there had been no actual harm from the bribery, calling for a suspended sentence instead.
Akimoto’s trial date is yet to be determined and he continues to maintain his innocence.